Trombone Shorty Brings Pure New Orleans Swagger to House of Blues

Trombone Shorty @ House of Blues - Houston.EXPAND
Trombone Shorty @ House of Blues - Houston.
photos by Marco Torres

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Soul Rebels Brass Band House of Blues November 30, 2014

On Episode 6 of Dave Grohl's new HBO series Sonic Highways, a four-year-old Troy Andrews is shown onstage with the legendary Bo Diddley at New Orleans' annual Jazz Fest. From busking for tips in Jackson Square to now headlining his hometown's signature music festival as well as ACL and Voodoo Fest, the horn player known as Trombone Shorty has been involved in music at a high level for a very long time. Right away you can see and feel that he doesn't play for the money or fame...he plays due to a basic need to express himself and represent his hometown to the fullest.

With that tradition and mystique on hand, Sunday night Shorty and his band Orleans Avenue hit the stage at House of Blues with a furious swagger and mighty loud boom. Shorty performs as though he is part James Brown and part Jimi Hendrix, a virtuoso on the trombone and trumpet, with an unrivaled ability to get on up and get on the good foot.

Who dat?!EXPAND
Who dat?!

He opened with "Do to Me," a track that rocked and rolled and warmed up the crowd something nice. The cool thing about his show was the variety of directions the sound traveled. From jazz to funk, rock to blues, calypso to Latin, and even hip-hop, Shorty and his band are equipped for everything. After jammin' the intro, he looked out and said, "I don't know about y'all, but the band and I are here to have some fun tonight!"

Whether in front of a couple of hundred fans such as last night or tens of thousands at the festivals, his show is always large and emotional. There is no such thing as a chill Trombone Shorty show. For him, it's all the way turned up all the time.

From the Sixth Ward straight to...Greenstreet Pavilion.EXPAND
From the Sixth Ward straight to...Greenstreet Pavilion.

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He joyously brings us the music from the Sixth Ward of New Orleans, which is were he grew up. With a wide smile, he danced around the stage as if possessed by the Mardi Gras holy spirit. "Can we make it funky for y'all?", he asked as the crowd screamed their approval.

He then led the band into a string of Cash Money Records and No Limit Records covers, from Juvenile's "Nolia Clap" to Mystikal's "Shake Ya Azz," and the show turned into a parade of fun and dance, with Shorty as the Grand Marshal. He then took the opportunity to slow it down and directed his baritone sax player to play a familiar bass line: the syrupy slow backbone of the H-Town rap classic "Still Tippin," bringing special guests Slim Thug and Paul Wall to the stage for an excellent moment indeed.

"This could only be done in HTown!", proclaimed the horn player.

And a horn player with this much soul could only hail from New Orleans.

The Soul Rebels Brass Band get their groove on.EXPAND
The Soul Rebels Brass Band get their groove on.

So, How Was the Opener?Not that Trombone Shorty needed a warmup, but the Soul Rebels Brass Band made a helluva good one, showcasing their skills as one of the best brass-band combos to make it big over the last few years. They are a powerhouse of sound, playing fun covers of Kanye's "Touch the Sky" and the Beatles' "Come Together." They led the crowd into a dancealong and definitely set the stage for the headliner.

Story continues on the next page.


Shorty's set touched on everything from second-line funk to hip-hop.EXPAND
Shorty's set touched on everything from second-line funk to hip-hop.
Shorty had one question Sunday night: "Can we make it funky for y'all?"
Shorty had one question Sunday night: "Can we make it funky for y'all?"

Personal Bias: New Orleans blues and jazz really put a spell on me.

The Crowd: Older but lively!

Overheard In the Crowd: "$25 shirts... not a bad deal compared to the damn drink prices!"

Random Notebook Dump: This was the first show I've shot/reviewed at House of Blues in months. It was good to be back!


Trombone Shorty's set list @ House of Blues - Houston.
Trombone Shorty's set list @ House of Blues - Houston.

When he's not roaming around the city in search of tacos and graffiti, Marco points his camera lens towards the vibrant Houston music scene and beyond. Follow his adventures on Instagram at @MarcoFromHouston.


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